Tis the Season to be Scamming – Warning from Fair Trading

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is warning the public to be scam smart and super sceptical in the holiday season, after his personal staff both received accident insurance scam phone calls at work on the same day in the past week.

“No one is immune from scammers,” he said. “They are relentless, indiscriminate and ruthless.”

A warning was issued in 2014 about the accident insurance scam, after numerous consumers as well as Parramatta-based Fair Trading staff reported receiving calls from scammers purporting to be from ‘injury Australia group’ and NRMA Insurance and seeking personal details related to accident claims. The President of NRMA Motoring & Services even received a call at the time.

“The scammers start by suggesting someone at the address they have called has been involved in an accident in recent years and the person is entitled to compensation but the caller needs to confirm details for their database.”

Mr Stowe said the scam was reportedly running again across the state and presented a clear and present danger to vulnerable consumers.

“These scams are designed to harvest your personal details that can then be used to defraud you,” he said. “To avoid identity theft, never give out your personal or bank account details to somebody you don’t know or trust and never send your credit card or bank details in response to unsolicited approaches on the phone, via email or text.

“If you receive a communication you think may be genuine, don’t ignore the possibility there actually has been some fraud with your bank account or credit card. Ask the caller for details, then hang up and call your bank or credit union to tell them what has happened. Make sure the phone number you ring is genuine. If you have lodged a genuine accident insurance claim, call the insurer and let them know you have received a call.”

Insurance Council of Australia CEO Rob Whelan said insurers were concerned about consumers receiving unsolicited calls in the weeks before Christmas.

“The Insurance Council is aware scammers and touts are contacting consumers,” he said. “These callers are claiming either to be calling on behalf of insurance businesses and asking for personal information, or they are trying to sign the consumer up for personal injury compensation services.

“Insurers do not operate in this way. If you receive an unsolicited call of this nature, do not provide any personal information. This could be part of an identification fraud attempt. Instead, ask for the caller’s details including name, organisation, email address and phone number. If you have been in an accident and receive a call urging you to sign up to a compensation service, you are strongly advised to call your insurer.”

For information on various types of scams, how to avoid getting scammed or to report a scam, contact SCAMwatch at www.scamwatch.gov.au or the Australian Cybercrime Online Report Network (ACORN) at www.acorn.gov.au (for cyber scams).